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'Progress' but no deal as GreenShield workers begin 4th week on picket line

Unifor Local 240 preisdent Jodi Nesbitt on the picket line with striking GreenShield members on March 25, 2024. Workers are entering their fourth week on the line.  (Dale Molnar/CBC - image credit)
Unifor Local 240 preisdent Jodi Nesbitt on the picket line with striking GreenShield members on March 25, 2024. Workers are entering their fourth week on the line. (Dale Molnar/CBC - image credit)

The union representing striking GreenShield workers says it has yet to come to an agreement with the company on compensation issues as workers enter their fourth week on the picket line.

"Well, I would say that progress is being made. We're actually talking," said Jodi Nesbitt, the president of Unifor Local 240, which represents Windsor GreenShield workers.

"Anytime that you're sitting at a table or able to have conversation back and forth, it might not be exactly what both sides want, but we are committed and we are at least talking about some important issues," she said.

It's the first strike in the insurance company's 67-year history.

Workers at GreenShield first went on strike on March 1. GreenShield handles local clients including Ford, Stellantis and Caesars Windsor.

Nesbitt says they are seeking a three-year agreement for over 600 workers.

The bulk of them are in Windsor and represented by Unifor Local 240. A handful are Toronto-based and represented by Local 673.

Nesbitt says they've cleared some of the major negotiating hurdles on job security and are working on compensation — saying they're seeking "significant" increases, much like other unions that have entered negotiations this year.

As for whether members of the public will be noticing the strike when getting their claims reimbursed, both Nesbitt and the company said things are being processed.

The company says online claims are being processed as usual. Manual claims are also being handled with "prompt" turnaround times.

"We are processing as many claims as we receive in a given day and our most frequent and high-volume claims continue to be processed within a week," said spokesperson Mila Lucio in a statement.

Unionized workers at Windsor's GreenShield location have been on the picket line since Mar. 1, 2024.
Unionized workers at Windsor's GreenShield location have been on the picket line since Mar. 1, 2024.

Unionized workers at Windsor's GreenShield location have been on the picket line since Mar. 1, 2024. (Meg Roberts/CBC)

Lucio said salaried employees have been re-deployed to help handle "critical functions," during the strike.

Nesbitt says her members are doing everything they can to minimize the impact on their customers — including offering the occasional helping hand from the picket line.

"There have been people reaching out to us about concerns that they have and we have made sure that people that are in need are getting to the right people inside to get what they need so that nobody's left without very important medication," she said.

"We really do care and we all want to get back to the workplace. We want to serve our customers."

The company says it's processing as many claims each day as it receives and no outside workers have been brought in during the strike.